As You Like It

By Andrew Andrews

In Shakespeare’s day, actors never played the same show two days in a row.

On top of that, every two weeks, a company added a new play to its repertoire.

To make things worse: theatre companies, in constant fear that their actors would steal their stories and take them to the competition, didn’t allow an actor to possess the entire script!

Think about that for a second: if you were constantly performing a different play, and you never had the entire script at your disposal, how could you possibly memorize your roles?

According to the Unrehearsed Shakespeare Project, the actors didn’t.

Instead, each actor was given a scroll (called a “roll,” leading to the term “role”) to use on stage. Each scroll contained cues, the actor’s own lines, and minimal stage directions.

The rest, they had to piece together themselves.

Fast forward about four hundred years to today, when a theatre company typically performs the same production day-in and day-out for weeks or even months at a time. My, how things have changed!

Enter Carrie Isaacman: returning the authenticity to Shakespeare’s works.

Her company, Shakespeare Sports, brings the actors’ scrolls back to the stage, so we can experience Elizabethan theatre as it might have been seen at The Globe, The Theatre, or The Red Lion.

Last night we caught Sports’ As You Like It at the Players Theatre. Featuring Stephanay Slade as Rosalind, Kasper Kuzmicki as Orlando and Sabrina Seidner as Celia, the production provided one of the most authentic performances of English Renaissance theatre we’ve ever seen, with the aforementioned scrolls not only present on the stage, but highlighted by the actors as they waited for their cues, read their lines and anticipated each others’ entrances.

The large cast included Kaitlin Creed Boyce, Colin Colford, Brian Acosta Arya, Suzanne Du Charme, Melanie Gretchen, Michael Hagins, Katie Harden, James Jagiello, Steven Macropoulos, Charles Lear, Joe Crow Ryan, Roger Stude and Isaacman as the simple-minded Audrey.

Original folk music by Melanie Gretchen and Donna Stearns, combined with costumes by Deborah Houston, updated Arden’s setting from a Rennaissance-era forest to a hippie commune in the 1960’s.

If you’re tired of the same-old, modern interpretations of Shakespeare, maybe the actors’ scrolls are what you’ve been missing!

Find out for yourself, then come back here and let us know what you think of Isaacman’s attempt to return The Bard’s work to its roots.

Your reviews can help others decide whether Shakespeare Sports has the right idea, and your ratings help us help you find future performances and other events you’re sure to love!


Andrew Andrews attended As You Like It at Players Theatre Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre in Manhattan on Saturday, December 1, 2018 @ 7:00pm to write this review.